Devil Tooth is out to defeat me, but I’ll win with soup and milkshakes

Have I ever told you guys about my Devil Tooth?

(If you’re squeamish about dental stories, please read no further.)

It’s a tale of woe spanning almost a decade. When I was 17, fresh from a trip to the International Theatre Festival in Lincoln, Neb., I noticed an ache on a tooth I’d had filled. A quick jaunt to the dentist was sobering: I had to have a root canal on my very back tooth, up high on the left side of my mouth.

The root canal itself was pretty disturbing. In addition to getting the awesome shot in the roof of your mouth that accompanies having to be numbed for the procedure, I was still feeling things even when I shouldn’t. I cried and cried, tears creating sideways rivers down my face. Then I started to hyperventilate. Though the surgeons let me listen to the soundtrack for “Blood Brothers,” a play I was obsessed with after seeing it at the festival, even the melodic voices of the British actors couldn’t drown out my anguish.

So, you know. Then that was over. My tooth went back to doing whatever it is that it does — disintegrating and making my life hellish, apparently. Because we fast-forward six years later to me, sitting before my ridiculously good-looking dentist, Dr. Bob, as he tells me in his lovely voice that I’m going to have to get a gold crown on that baby.

I’ve talked about my crown before. It’s in the back of my mouth, sure, so no one can see it, but I know it’s there — and that makes me feel like Flavor Flav. After going through the uncomfortable crowning procedure, my coworkers took to calling me “Miss Rap Supreme.” And they even got me a nameplate for my desk.

I wish I could tell you that the story ends there — I got my crown and lived to eat corn on the cob, saltwater taffy and caramel popcorn once more. No food was too sticky for my liking; no candy too hard for me to chomp on.

But, of course, that’s not what happened.

In the past two years, my crown has fallen out six times — always when I’m eating, which is incredibly classy and not disgusting at all, having to root around for my missing tooth in the half-eaten food I’ve chewed. I’ve never swallowed it, thank goodness, because who knows how much dough it would have cost me to replace?

Before you all jump the, “Oh my God! Your dentist is the worst! I would never go there again!” gun, I genuinely believe this isn’t their fault. When they went to place my crown, Devil Tooth was so deteriorated that little remained for the crown to adhere to (and that’s a dangling participle, but I’m too tired to figure out how to reword it). The dentist said recently, “It’s like trying to keep a hat on in a hurricane.”

The last time it fell out? Right before my trip to New York a few weeks ago, and that’s when I’d had enough. Dr. Bob had told me before that if it kept coming off, they were going to have to do tooth lengthening surgery. (I’d link to that for informational purposes, but I wouldn’t recommend Googling it.) Devil Tooth got that procedure done on Wednesday morning, and if I thought the root canal was bad? Well, this was worse. Way worse. There were more tears — and lots of blood. And a cut lip, stitches and me desperately trying not to gag.

When it was all over, my surgeon — sure, we’ll call him a surgeon, I mean this was surgery — felt so sorry for me, with my cut mouth, chapped lips and mascara-covered face, he actually walked to a nearby Wendy’s to get me a Frosty, my most coveted of post-dental procedure nourishment. After I had three wisdom teeth pulled, I lived off Frosties for about four days.

I’ve never felt sorrier for myself than I did Wednesday, sitting alone in a cold dental office with my mouth full of gauze as I tried to feed myself a few pathetic spoonfuls of Frosty. I was still weeping and nodding mutely when my dental assistant came by to ask if I was all right. No one let me leave until I drank apple juice (to get my sugar back up?) and finished my Frosty. They didn’t want me to drive, and weren’t sure I should go back to work. Not because the procedure was so bad, necessarily, but because I took it so badly.

With pain medication prescription in hand, I stumbled my way back to my Toyota and headed back to the office — where I stayed long enough to finish editing a few pages for the paper and asked to go home. Once there, I curled up on the sofa and tried to force-feed myself some soup.

The best part of the day — aside from my sister going to Chick-Fil-A to get me a strawberry milkshake — was when Spencer showed up that evening. What pathetic and incapacitated girlfriend doesn’t want their boyfriend to show up and save the day?

And he did — with this:


And not a minute too soon, too. I was ill-prepared for how much that was going to suck, and when he arrived I just wanted a hug and someone else to listen to my tale of woe. I’m pretty sure my family, coworkers and Twitter followers didn’t want more gory details.

I go back to the dentist in two weeks for my “post-op,” where they examine to make sure my gums have healed and ensure the stitches in my mouth have dissolved. Then I get fitted for my new crown and have to go back again for it to be installed. (Placed? Glued in?) I’d have just had them pull the damn thing months (years?) ago, but my teeth would probably shift back from their $3,000 dental work. And that’s definitely no good.

Right now, I’m slowly starting to eat real food again — which is good, because woman cannot live on ice cream and milkshakes alone (who knew?). I’m even nursing a Diet Coke this morning, so starved am I for caffeine; just have to make sure I take everything by straw.

But my good friends Advil and Sweet Red Pepper Soup are here for me. As is my greatest ally, Good Dental Insurance.

Aetna must cry when they see my claims coming.

21 thoughts on “Devil Tooth is out to defeat me, but I’ll win with soup and milkshakes

  1. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry reading this. It sounds so painful, yet your writing made me laugh. I am sorry for your pain and hope it stops hurting soon. Your boyfriend sounds fabulous and definitely a keeper.


  2. You will forgive me if I laugh right? You have such a great way of making a really painful thing sounding funny.

    Spencer is indeed a catch. I think I fell in love with my boyfriend when did something similar for me.

    Hope you feel better soon and that the ensuing trips are no where near as bad.


  3. If this editing/writing thing doesn’t work out for you, you should definitely take up graphic design. I honestly can’t get enough of that tooth pic 🙂

    Agreeing with the others – what a sweetie that Spencer is!


      • Of course, all the better to inflict pain with. Plus, you know he’s a hardened warrior, as he obviously lost an arm in a previous battle. He’s got nothing to lose, just wants to take down as many innocent victims as possible.


        • Devil Tooth is definitely a veteran, having survived many of my previous attempts to rid him of plaque and other issues. He resisted any sort of help I could give him when it would have actually mattered, and now we must all deal with the consequences.

          I am seriously giggling at my desk. “He’s got nothing to lose…” Best line of my day.


  4. How awful for you! I just had a hospitalized episode, and my husband came to pick me up with a milkshake in his hand. (okay, I suggested it, but still!) Milkshakes are definitely a wonder drug!!!


  5. arghhhh!!! you and my husband should get together. he’s a dental NIGHTMARE and has more teeth issues than an otherwise healthy 30-something should. how about this–it’s only september and we’ve already MAXED OUT our dental plan for the year. hahahah.

    i’m so sorry that you suffered so much. i detest going to the dentist and actually get written love notes from my dentist begging me to come for a visit. instead, i just floss and brush 5 times each day. 🙂

    feel better soon. i had a root canal once (in 2006) and am STILL whining about it. hahaha


  6. aww i’m sorry to hear about your tooth! i feel your pain though! i think i’m going to need gum surgery pretty soon on one of my back teeth. definitely not looking forward to it. 😦 i’m not afraid to admit that i’m a dental student that hates going to the dentist!


  7. Oy Meg! That sounds painful! I have some tooth trouble, but nothing like that! My trouble lies with chipping! My front left tooth got chipped when I did a one and a half front flip off the high dive at the city pool. Wasn’t a very graceful dive and ended up with a chipped tooth. My second chippage was at the State Fair. Some crazy man came up behind me with a chain saw on a scary ride. I ducked forward and hit my tooth straight on the railing to keep you seated. Different tooth, same deal. And my final chippage happened when I was in Mexico of all places. I was eating breakfast and somehow hit my fork on my tooth and the WHOLE front, smooth enamel came off. I had crusty gritty tooth the rest of the time. Had to call my husband (who wasn’t even my bf of a year yet and have him make me an urgent appointment for the day I returned). Since my enamel problem, I have had to have it replaced once because I was trying to open something and used my tooth and it peeled the fake enamel right off. For my wedding, my dentist told me I could bleach the rest of my teeth and she would just change the color of my fake front one. Too much work for me. Plus my one tooth would be a different color! Hope my teefer woes give you a little laugh because mine are all clumsy and my fauly where yours is just straight up tooth hates Meg! Hope you are feeling better and you better not get rid of Spencer! Boy cooks, takes pictures and gets your goodie baskets?? HE’S A KEEPER!


  8. I had to half read/half skim this post because I get a little squeamish with dental stuff, but I hope you’re feeling better and thank goodness you have the wonderful Spencer to take care of you!


  9. Oh Meg, I so know what you are going through – although my dentist and my surgeon were nowhere near as sensitive as yours. During my rooth canal, when I told the surgeon I wasn’t numb in the mouth enough and that I could feel the pain, he decided to prove me that I was “sensing the movement, which is normal, but not the pain really” (and that’s really what he said. He was losing his patience with me). He inserted a tiny needle somewhere into the war zone that was my mouth, and I yelled and cried so loudly that assistants came running in panic. It was painful (!!!!), humiliating and I’ve never gone back, even though I really need to. 😦 I guess I am very highly resistant to the stuff they use to numb you, because this was only the worst of a series of similar adventures.


    • So many of us have such horror stories, Kay! I say we all band together, eat lots of candy and never give the dentists another dime again!

      …OK, so maybe that’s a bad plan. At least with the whole candy thing. But I’m still thinking of going on strike.


  10. Oh sweetie! I totally feel for you. I have had several old silver fillings replaced by crowns in the back teeth, and the last one I had done was a nightmare. Haven’t been back since and that was two years ago.

    I had braces back in the day, and when they came off I had tons of cavaties. Plus the braces softened my teeth so they are more prone to decay (thanks Mom and Dad but at least my teeth are straight). Those teeth in the back are the worst. I also wondered about getting them pulled. Really? Are they that necessary?

    Well at least your boyfriend took care of you, that sweetie. He’s a keeper. Feel free to complain about your teeth anytime. It will make you feel better. Get better soon.


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